Gasoline Futures Gain as Jobless Claims Fall to Two-Month Low

Gasoline futures gained in New York as consumer sentiment rose and U.S. jobless claims fell to a two-month low.

Futures gained 0.4 percent after The Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits declined 10,000 to 316,000 in the week ended Nov. 23. The median forecast of 44 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 330,000. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment in November rose more than estimated to 75.1 from 73.2 a month earlier.

“We’re following the old theory: more jobs, more driving,” said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston.

Gasoline for December delivery gained 1.14 cents to settle at $2.6983 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume was 12 percent below the 100-day average at 3 p.m.

Gasoline’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, widened $2.13 to $21.12 a barrel at settlement. The fuel’s premium to European benchmark Brent strengthened by 18 cents to $1.96.

Refinery Work

Gasoline inventories increased as production rose with refineries including Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Garyville, Louisiana, plant and Phillips 66’s Borger complex in Texas restarting after planned work. Supplies rose 1.8 million barrels to 210.6 million, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

“Given that refiners have returned from maintenance, we see gasoline supplies begin to be replenished,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Distillate supplies shrank by 1.67 million barrels to 110.9 million, according to data from the EIA, the Energy Department’s statistical arm.

Ultra low sulfur diesel for December delivery rose 0.25 cent to $3.0469 a gallon. Volume was 16 percent above the average.

ULSD’s premium over WTI gained $1.62 to $35.72 a barrel. The crack spread versus Brent fell 38 cents to $16.53.

U.S. pump prices, averaged nationwide, rose 0.1 cent to $3.287 a gallon, Heathrow, Florida-based AAA said today. Prices are the highest since Oct. 26.

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